Since the late 1800’s the Pope has given a monthly prayer intention to the world through the Apostleship of Prayer, now known as the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network. In 1929 he added a second intention for the missions. Today these are called his “universal” and “evangelization” intentions.
The process of soliciting suggestions from Vatican Congregations and from members around the world, then proposing them to the Holy Father, then receiving his final versions and translating them from Italian into various languages, then publicizing them via print—is a long process. That is why the intentions for 2018 will be chosen and translated in early 2017.
Fr. Frederic Fornos, S.J., the international director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, sees this as a way that Pope Francis wants to confront “the culture of indifference” by focusing our prayerful attention on situations that are “more concrete, precise, current, related to actual circumstances.”